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HDD MP3 Players - Best Sound Quality

Discussion in 'Headphones, Earphones & Portable Music' started by rp92, Jun 27, 2005.

  1. rp92

    rp92
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    Hi to all,
    I'm going to buy an hdd based mp3 player that should replace my wonderful Sony D-NE1 cd player (reads MP3 and Atrac3Plus as well).

    What I'm mostly interested into is the Sound Quality. More in detail, I listen, most of the time, to classical music, so first of all I need clarity and details. But I can't miss an adequate bass support because half of classical music is played softly, often just a low pizzicato, and no bass means that I'd loose most of the notes, of the instruments, of the music.

    This is precisely what has happened with my Sony NW-HD5 that I just sent back to the seller (also because of the button cracks). The clarity was amazing, the bass support almost non-existing for classical music (no matter how much I did play with the various EQs). Listeling to Paul Oakenfold (just an example) this was much less noticeable, but with classical music it has been frustrating, especially when I went back (just for a test) to the D-NE1 and found that the latter (with Sound Boost set to just 1 !!!) was definitely richer in bass than the HD-5 with Bass set to +3 in the D-EQ.

    For reference, as I can't use earphones like the MX-450, I use a Sennheiser PX-10 which I find perfectly supporting portable devices with its 16ohm impedance and 121db SPL (joined with the well known clarity of the Sennheiser headphones) and which does not lack in the bass as my D-NE1 can testify.

    Please note, this is a VITAL search for me, I can't stand anymore with bringing towers of discs (even if containing MP3 and Atrac3Plus music) with me in my long journeys for work. I desperately need an HDD MP3 player with a least 20GB with me !!! :lease: :)

    Thanks to anyone that wants to give its contribution, even only to revert any above statement (I'm dreaming that my HD5 was defective so to take a new one ...).

    Bye
    Peppe
     
  2. extremelydodgy

    extremelydodgy
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    Take a look at the Rio Karma. Compared to the HD5 it looks like something by Fisher-Price and is twice the thickness... but you will not find a better-sounding, classical-friendly and all-round superior player than the Sony for less. You can pick it up for £170 or less on Tottenham Court Road, and cheaper if you hit eBay.


    However the D-NE1 had the godawful Mega Bass which introduced large, bloated, incoherent bass. Bass 1 was at the ragged edge of acceptability. If that's genuinely considered quality sound from your prespective, I'm left scratching my head for what to recommend though. Later Sony Discmen and the HD players are much more refined and capable in bass management, although it is interesting to still see many comments about them having poorer 'sound quality', 'because I can't crank up the bass to what it was like at 2'.


    Fortunately with the Karma, control over bass is not a big issue... you can dial in as much as you want. You might also like to take a look at the iRiver H10. Although like MegaBass the increase in lows comes with a significant impact on sound quality, the H10 provides a whole bunch of bass boost options. It also has SRS WOW, sound processing options which once again degrade sound quality but offer a more convincing spacial impression than the Sony VP Engine on the HD5 (aka "which version of your music coming through a drainpipe would you like?") and which can be paired with hugely boosted bass.


    Also the PX10 has it's limits and if Sound Quality (or even bass quantity, which seems to be a higher priority perhaps?) is genuinely an issue then perhaps it's worth looking to upgrade.
     
  3. rp92

    rp92
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    Thanks for your answer :)

    The problem with me is that I'm not a bass addict (that's why I never go beyond Bass 1 with the D-NE1, and only with classical music), and I'm conscious that the Mega Bass introduced some loss in details (much loss in Bass 2), but the problem is if ones has to prefer to have all the "sound information" at the price of having it a bit confused or if, in order not to introduce any confusion, not to have that information at all.

    As far of the Rio Karma is concerned, I think it might do in terms of SQ, but reading a bit around it seems that more than a few users have had problem with HD failures, and also overall it doesn't seem to be designed to last. By the way, if nothing better pops up, I think I might go with it.

    For the iRiver H10, it seems more convincing to me in paper. But yet it seems quite buggy too (as you stated as well in another thread). Any hint of new firmwares that fixed the problems ? Has anyone bought it and can tell anything about it ?

    Finally the headphones (still consider that I can't use earbuds), I was also considering to upgrade the PX10 when I got the problem of bass loss with the HD5. Reading on the Sennheiser site I discovered the PX200 was intented to compensate for such a problem, but I've no idea whether using it would introduce benefits or troubles as I've never tried it.

    My ideal would be the HD5 if it could be proven that perhaps my unit was faulty (doubts) or if using something like the PX200 would compensate someway.

    Any thought would be very appreciated :lease: :)

    Peppe
     
  4. extremelydodgy

    extremelydodgy
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    I don't think your HD5 was faulty. I never used Mega Bass on the D-NE1 and I felt I had enough bass for everything. Part of this difference between you and me could be down to the headphones (when fitted properly, the PX10 delivers decent bass but it is possible to get more) and that you might be a closet bass addict despite saying otherwise. Really, even at 1 I felt it was excessive, and I like the current D-NE10/20 parametric EQ, which offers roughly the same bass boost rates as the HD5, much more.


    The H10 is gradually being fixed. Track navigation problems have lessened, the track order problem has been fixed and the EQ distortion issue has been fixed. So has various USB problems. The bundled iRiver Plus software is still very poor (akin to Sonicstage 2 years ago), but you can load it manually and use a newly-developed open source project, EasyH10 to build the database separately. Several third-party software are beginning to support the H10's databasing system.
     
  5. rp92

    rp92
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    As I listen to music usually at low volume perhaps that's why I need some bass between 0 and 1 MegaBass. Or perhaps in my life I've only met friends that love bass more than me :confused:

    By the way, it's funny that you don't seem to believe me when I say I'm not a bass addict :)

    Nevertheless, I'm very willing to get any hint of alternative to the PX10 for my usage style as you've already understood. I've also opened a specific thread for that. I would be grateful for your advice either here or there.

    As far as the H10 is concerned, now it's getting more interesting. I wonder how it (and the HD5) does compare with the new Toshiba.

    Can I also ask you if you've heard the HD5 (especially with classical music) yourself and what your opinion is on its sound quality ?
     
  6. briankai

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    I've had 4 hard drive players over the past month or so... the iPod mini, Sony HD5, Sony HD3, and the Sony Vaio Pocket. After comparing all 4, this is the conclusion I have come to:

    The Vaio Pocket kicks the living hell out of everything else out there, sound quality wise. Seriously, there is no comparison.

    Kai
     
  7. extremelydodgy

    extremelydodgy
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    Both the Cowon and iRiver players can pretty much match the AP1 for sound quality, and both offer higher adjustability. I suppose it will boil down to what you want.
     
  8. briankai

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    Have you seen any of the Cowon's? If so, what's the build quality like... it looks like plastic from the pics, which to me is a big no-no. I wanted to go with the new Samsung, but after seeing it in Best Buy for myself, the fit and finish was pretty poor. Also, does the Cowon support embedded album art?

    Kai
     

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